Thursday, February 5, 2009

Villanueva Affair to Cost Millions

The public inquiry into the death of Freddy Villanueva is already turning into a fiasco as several witnesses demand that their their lawyers fees be paid for by the state. The government has already promised to pay the fees of the Villanueva family, but no one else. The witnesses (the other people shot by police) threaten not to testify.
The inquiry will likely be delayed, a circumstance that would suit the government just fine. These type of inquiries are held not to discover the truth, but to delay discussing the event until the public loses interest.

Certain facts are not in dispute.

Police officers Stéphanie Pilotte and Jean-Loup Lapointe, drove by a Montreal North park and spotted a group of about ten blacks shooting dice, which is illegal.

The police approached and recognized Freddy's brother, Dany Villanueva, a career criminal who has a history of armed robberies and associating with gang members. For a detailed history of his criminal past see the Montreal Gazette article of August 14, 2008. The police picked him out of the group for special scrutiny. He objected and reacted aggressively, enraged at the rough treatment. Police then arrested him and a scuffle broke out. The rest of the group, including Freddy, approached the police who ordered them to back up. Shots were fired.

Dany Villanueva describes the confrontation in his own words to a Journal de Montreal reporter in an December article in the paper.
Le policier s’est avancé vers moi et m’a dit Je t’ai vu jouer aux dés. Normalement, il aurait juste me donner une amende parce que c’est interdit de jouer à l’argent
("The policeman approached me and said 'I saw you playing dice.' Usually, they should have given me a ticket, because it's illegal to play for money")
Mais il m’a pris la main, la policière m’a pris le bras et ils m’ont accoté sur le capot de leur auto. Je lui ai dit Qu’est-ce que tu me veux?
(But he took my hand, the policewoman took my arm and they shoved me onto the hood of their car. I shouted 'What do you want from me?')
Ça faisait mal, alors j’ai résisté. Il m’a pris par le cou et m’a jeté par terre.
(It hurt, so I resisted. He grabbed me by the neck and threw to the ground")

Two eye witnesses confirm that Dany was combative with the police.. Reference

Elle m’a mis un genou sur ma poitrine. J’ai entendu mon frère crier Arrêtez! Arrêtez!
(She put a knee on my breast. I heard my brother shouting 'Stop! Stop')

It was at this point the police turned and fired at the group.

The Police contend that they were being swarmed and were defending themselves.
Their take on events is neatly summed up by crown prosecutor François Brière, in an article by the CBC. who explains why the shooting was justified.
The defendants admit approaching the police but not attacking them.

There is a question as to whether the police over-reacted to the dice playing, a relatively minor offence. They could of shouted an instruction for group to break up.
What is also in contention is whether the approaching group was actually attacking the police. The Police say yes and the others say no..

At any rate the death of Freddy is going to cost millions.
The ensuing riot in Montreal North that followed the death has already cost a small fortune.

The Villanueva family has already sued are are looking for a big, big payoff. It remains to be seen whether the City on Montreal will back the Police or cave in to the demands for political expediency.

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